Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some highlights from Mark Newman's interview with Kevin Goldstein and Jason Parks

First off, if you're any sort of fan of the minor leagues, or prospects, or baseball, or Mexican Coke, you need to be listening to the Up and In podcast, a product of the superb Baseball Prospectus. Each week, the pair discuss the issues of the day with each other, as well as some fantastic guests.
This week, their guest was Yankees Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman, who spent about 30 minutes discussing a variety of topics regarding his club and baseball as a whole.

Here are some highlights of that interview:

On the advancement of the system's pitching prospects:

"In the 22-plus years I've been with the Yankees, we haven't had anything like this happen."

On their thinking when they drafted Andrew Brackman in 2007:

"(He was a) flier for a high-ceiling, top-of-the-rotation type of pitcher."

On Brackman's future:

"We still think he can be something more than an No. 4 or a No. 5 (starter)."

On Jesus Montero's defense:

"(He) absolutely can catch in the big leagues - and will catch in the big leagues."

On Cito Culver:

"He can really play defense for a young guy. He's got a kind of handsy approach to hit."

A couple of other nuggets:

-- Dellin Betances is in consideration for the Triple-A rotation next year

-- Brett Marshall is working on his slider in the instructional league

Be sure to check out the full episode of the podcast, which you can do by downloading it here.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yankees Notes: Joseph, Pirela, Adams, Montero, Brackman, Betances, Instructs

In an email this morning, Yankees senior vice president of baseball operations confirmed that Thunder second baseman Corban Joseph would miss the Arizona Fall League because of surgery he had on his right wrist toward the end of the regular season.

Joseph, promoted to Trenton on Aug. 3, missed the entirety of the Eastern League playoffs with the injury. Before shutting it down, the 21-year-old was hitting .216/.305/.647 in 31 Double-A games.

Replacing him on the Phoenix Desert Dogs roster is Jose Pirela, a middle infielder who spent the season with High-A Tampa.

Pirela, a 20-year-old out of Venezuela whom the Yankees signed in 2006 for $300,000, really put it together in the second half after starting off very slowly in the Florida State League.

His post-All-Star break batting average was a whopping 56 points better than what he posted over the first couple of months. He also nearly tripled his walk total (15 in the first half, 42 in the second). He also swiped 22 of his 30 bases during the second half.

When the Yankees signed him, they were interested in his bat and his ability to burn up the basepaths. While his offensive numbers won’t blow anyone away, he has delivered on his promise of speed.

In four seasons, he’s succeeded on 58 of his 80 attempts, good for an outstanding 72 percent clip.

Pirela joins pitchers George Kontos, Manny Banuelos and Craig Heyer, outfielder Brandon Laird and catcher Austin Romine on the Desert Dogs roster.


Speaking of second basemen, David Adams, who got just 159 at-bats before a broken foot ended his season, has begun functional drills, Newman said.

Adams’ injury, initially diagnosed as a high ankle sprain, was downgraded around the time he was to be shipped to Seattle in the deal that would have made Cliff Lee a Yankee.

Seattle’s doctors didn’t like what they saw, however, and put the kibosh on the deal.


The Yankees instructional league rosters were released last week, and there are more than a few interesting names on the list.

The team’s first three draft choices, Cito Culver, Angelo Gumbs and postseason Thunder bench player Rob Segedin, all will get a little more work before their offseasons begin.

Joining them will be Thunder pitchers Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, as well as Eastern League MVP Brandon Laird, who will continue his transition to the outfield.

Dominican Summer League standouts Yeicok Calderon, Jorge Alcantara, Daniel Lopez, and Rafael Polo will also get some work.

Perhaps the strangest part of that roster, however, is Addison Maruszak being listed as a catcher. He’s played many positions during his brief career, but has never been a backstop.


According to the same email from Newman, catcher Jesus Montero has not decided whether he will play in the Venezuelan Winter League, but he is leaning toward doing so.


Betances, Montero and Andrew Brackman each joined the Yankees last week, but only Brackman, by virtue of his spot on the 40-man roster, was active.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman have each hinted that Brackman, in what has been a tremendous bounce-back year, will get some work down the stretch.

Montero and Betances are there strictly to observe and get a taste of life in the big leagues during a playoff race.

As an aside, Cashman referred to Betances in the most recent issue of Baseball America, saying he “might be our best pitching prospect ever.”

Considering the state of the system, that’s very high praise.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Future Thunder Pitchers Archive

Here, in no particular order, are a bunch of videos I shot during the two series Charleston played against Lakewood this year. Included are clips of Brett Marshall, Graham Stoneburner, Josh Romanski, Kelvin Perez and Jose Ramirez.






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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Yankees Instructional League Roster

Below is the entire Yankees Instructional League roster, as faxed to me this morning. Obviously, Dellin Betances is not with the team. He is getting a taste of big league life in New York. Almost every player's name links to their minor league stats. Taylor Morton and Gabriel Encinas, however, have links to their MLB Scouting Bureau video. This is because they did not play in the minors this season.


Kenedy Agramonte
Manny Banuelos
Dellin Betances
Daniel Burawa
Preston Claiborne
Evan DeLuca
Gabe Encinas
Steve Garrison
Shane Greene
Thomas Kahnle
Brett Marshall
Bryan Mitchell
Taylor Morton
Conor Mullee
Zachary Nuding
William Oliver
Jose Ramirez
Evan Rutckyj
Kramer Sneed
Zachary Varce
Chase Whitley


Kyle Higashioka
Jhorge Liccien
Addison Maruszak
J.R. Murphy
Gary Sanchez


Jorge Alcantara
Cito Culver
Anderson Feliz
Angelo Gumbs
Rob Lyerly
Reymond Nunez
Fernando Perez
Jose Pirela
Rafael Polo
Kyle Roller
Rob Segedin
Chris Tamarez


Yeicok Calderon
Kelvin DeLeon
Kelvin Duran
Ben Gamel
Taylor Grote
Slade Heathcott
Brandon Laird
Daniel Lopez
Eladio Moronta
Mason Williams

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Adam Warren Video Bonanza!

After checking my blog's archives, I've found every Adam Warren video I've posted this year. Here they all are. The list includes his first Double-A strikeout, his 13th, 14th and 15th Ks from his record-breaking game, and a scoreless inning from the playoffs.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brackman and Betances to get a taste of the show - UPDATE: Montero, too

UPDATE: Got this a little earlier, but wanted to hold for confirmation. Brackman will be active, despite what I heard this morning. I assume this was a recent change. Betances and Montero, however, are still inactive.


Just got off the phone with Damon Oppenheimer, who says that Jesus Montero will be joining Betances and Brackman in New York. Like the other two, Montero will be inactive while up there.


Just got off the phone with Mark Newman, and here's the scoop:

Per the New York Post report this morning, Andrew Brackman is headed to New York to get a taste of life in the big leagues. He will do drills with the coaches and experience what it's like to be in a big league pennant race.

What the Post didn't have, however, is that Dellin Betances will be joining his (slightly) taller teammate. Betances told me just before the Thunder's exit from the playoffs that he will be participating in the instructional leagues, but only to work on his defense.

Both made the best of what could have been seen as pivotal seasons, as far as their overall development was concerned. Below are audio clips from both men from just before the season ended. I spoke with them about their seasons, their turnarounds and whether they expected to be in Double-A in 2010.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Report: Andrew Brackman called to the Yankees -- UPDATE: Report appears false

UPDATE: Per the man himself, Andrew Brackman says he has not been promoted to the Yankees, nor has he heard that it will happen. He is currently at home in Ohio.

On Sept. 14, Andrew Brackman pitched in relief of Andy Pettitte. If you'd told Brackman that night that he'd be sharing a big league clubhouse with Pettitte less than a week later, I'm sure he would have called you every kind of crazy in the book.

And yet, according to, it's true.

If so -- and I'm working on confirmation -- then it represents one heck of a turnaround from his horrific 2009 season, during which he went 2-12 with a 5.91 ERA. He was even pushed to the bullpen at one point to get himself straightened out.

This season, however, after a brief blip in the early going, things took a 180 for the 6-foot-10 former first-rounder.

He finished 2010 with an 11-10 mark, a 3.90 ERA and 126 strikeouts over 140 2/3 frames. Moreover, his stuff looked incredible, with the culmination coming in Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series. In relief of Pettitte that night, Brackman twirled five one-hit innings and earned what turned out to be the Thunder's last win of the season.

Now, as a member of the 40-man roster, he'll get a chance to pitch in another pennant race. This time, however, the stakes are much higher.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Closing time: Curve top Thunder for ELCS crown

TRENTON – When Altoona closer Daniel Moskos blew the season’s final pitch past Matt Cusick’s bat, making the Curve 5-2 winners and first-time Eastern League champions, it merely made official what had seemed inevitable since the fourth inning.

With each bat that was kicked, slammed, tossed or otherwise discarded in frustration, it became painfully clear that this, despite mountains of individual and team success, was simply not the Thunder’s year.

The fourth frame, when Altoona took the lead for good, was when the ball started slowly rolling downhill for Trenton.

With nobody out and runners on second and third as a result of a walk and an error by first baseman Marcos Vechionacci, Altoona’s Jim Negrych rifled a ball up the middle that struck starter Manny Banuelos flush in the neck, just below the right side of his chin.

The ball was hit so hard that it ricocheted past shortstop Luis Nunez, who was moving toward second base to try to make a play, and into shallow left, allowing both runners to scamper home.

The Curve tacked on three more runs the rest of the way, while Trenton, which held a 1-0 edge when the inning started, added only a Damon Sublett solo blast in the seventh to its total.

While the Thunder were in their clubhouse packing their belongings and preparing for an offseason that’s sure to be filled, for a while at least, with what ifs, the Curve’s joyful noise was still echoing throughout the bowels of Waterfront Park.

For their unofficial captain, catcher Austin Romine, those sounds, and the sights that preceded them, were sickening.

“I hate losing. I absolutely hate losing,” he said. “There’s nothing worse than seeing them dogpile on my field.”

Afterward, manager Tony Franklin told his club that it should capture this feeling, remember it and use it as motivation as they go forth and advance within their respective careers.

“We didn’t produce when the chips were down. What we’ll do is use that as a learning experience,” the skipper said, “because it’s going to happen again, and when you’re in this time of year, vying for championships, you’ve got to be at the top of your game.”

That lack of production in key situations to which Franklin referred was easily the hallmark of the series for the Thunder, who, after the way they ran through the bullying pitching of New Hampshire in the first round, seemed a good a bet to win the whole thing.

With runners in scoring position, the Thunder were just 9-for-37 over the final games, including a putrid 1-for-14 during the two home contests. That lone hit came last night, when Dan Brewer’s RBI single got them on the board in the third inning.

Their work on defense wasn’t particularly good, either.

Trenton made six errors over the four games, compared to just 97 over the 142 contests of the regular season. That total was good for second best in the Eastern League.

Now, with 2010 in the books, all that’s left for the team is to decompress and try to learn from the mistakes and use them as fuel for next year, a task that now, says Justin Snyder, seems mighty difficult.

“I don’t know, man. It’s going to be a while,” Snyder said. “Especially after getting up 1-0 and think you had the upper hand, then just coming to our place and just shoving it. It’s going to be a bitter taste for a while, but in the long run it definitely is going to be a learning experience.”

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Postgame Audio and Video from Game 3

From the top down, here are Tony Franklin, Adam Warren, Austin Romine and Manny Banuelos talking about the loss last night and what they need to do to even the series tonight in Game 4.

Also below are videos of innings from Warren and reliever Pat Venditte. Both videos contain scoreless frames.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Manny Banuelos is going to the Arizona Fall League

Hey, Don Mattingly, you've got a new recruit for the Phoenix Desert Dogs.

Manny Banuelos, at the end of a fairly routine conversation about the pitching depth within the Yankees system, told me he will report to the Arizona Fall League on or about Oct. 6.

He will first report to the Instructional League, where he will throw a few innings before heading west. With the Desert Dogs, he's going to throw between 30 and 45 innings before shutting it down for the season.

Banuelos also said that the Yankees spoke to his Mexican League club, where he would have played normally, and they agreed to let him play in the AFL.

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Andrew Brackman will start Game 5, if necessary

Last night’s washout — the first at home all season — means Brackman would be called upon to pitch a potential fifth game, which would be played on Sunday at 1:05 at Waterfront Park.

After he pitched five innings in relief of Andy Pettitte on Tuesday, the team told Brackman he could go ahead and shut it down for the rest of year, with a few days of charting as his only remaining work.

Yesterday, however, with the weather forecast looking gloomy, those plans changed abruptly.

“I was told the day after I pitched ‘Shut it down, you’re done,’” he recalled. “Then I was told to show up here at 7:00 (p.m.) to go in the stands and chart. I got a phone call at 3:00 that said to come up here and throw a bullpen just in case they need me in Game 5.”

He looked strong on Tuesday, and has been that for last month or so. In fact, since Aug. 11, Brackman’s ERA of 0.82 is tied for tops in the league.

Who, you ask, has been his equal in that span? Why it’s Altoona’s Rudy Owens, who it just so happens was approved late last night to oppose Brackman should the series go to Game 5.

Knowing the circumstance, it would be fair for one to assume that the deciding game of a championship series would be the biggest pressure point of the big man’s career to date.

Not so.

Brackman points to Game 1 of the 2005 Atlantic Coast Conference, when he struck out five in seven innings against the Miami Hurricanes. This, of course, came just two months after he joined the baseball team.

Of course, Brackman also had some fairly big moments on the basketball court, where he spent a good portion of his college athletic career.

“Oh yeah, the Sweet 16 was probably the biggest,” he said. “I played in front of more people and everything.”

He didn’t perform terribly well against that night, when his N.C. State Wolfpack faced the Wisconsin Badgers. That aside, he still has the utmost confidence in himself should the Thunder need him with a championship on the line.

“I want to be there for Game 5,” he said, before reminding reporters that, no matter how it shakes down, a title is the ultimate goal. “Hopefully my teammates can come through and we can win a championship.”

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New ELCS schedule

Now that Game 3 has been postponed, here are the new dates and times for the rest of the series:

Game 3: Tonight, Adam Warren vs. Justin Wilson, 7:05 p.m.

Game 4: Tomorrow, Manny Banuelos vs. Tony Watson, 7:05 p.m.

Game 5: Sunday, Andrew Brackman vs. Rudy Owens, 1:05 p.m.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

For starters, this staff is nasty: Postgame notes with audio and video

I could describe the Thunder starter's dominance in their four postseason games, but I'd rather show it to you. I'm not going to count Andy Pettitte as a starter, because he's really not a Thunder player, per se.
Game 1, Dellin Betances: 5.1 2 0 1 8
Game 2, Adam Warren: 6 3 0 2 10
Game 3, Manny Banuelos: 7 5 0 3 5
Game 4, Andrew Brackman: 5 1 0 1 4
Totals: 23.1 11 0 7 27

Here is some postgame audio from (top down) Brackman, manager Tony Franklin and Austin Romine.

Additionally, here's Andy Pettitte's first inning and part of his press conference. My recorder shut off during the conference for some reason, but all of the good stuff is there.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Andy Pettitte to open up ELCS for Thunder

TRENTON — Just like the Thunder, the Altoona Curve won their division and made quick work of their division series opponent. They did so with an unexpected — based on their season-long output — burst of power.

They hit just 80 home runs during the 142-game regular season, but clubbed eight during the four first-round games with Harrisburg. Lineup mainstays Josh Harrison and Chase d’Arnaud hit two apiece after hitting just four and six, respectively, during the year.

Similarly, Trenton got some extra thunder from an unexpected source: Division series MVP Rene Rivera, who homered in each game against New Hampshire, including two game-winners.

And then there’s the unexpected boost to the Thunder rotation, which came in the form of Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte.

Pettitte pitched four shutout innings in Trenton’s Game 2 win in last week’s division series, and gets the ball tonight in Game 1 as he makes what should be his final rehab appearance before rejoining the Bombers.

Aside from Rivera’s shot,the only Thunder longball came from Damon Sublett in Game 3, his first blast since April 15.

The real key for Trenton, however, will be how it fares against the four lefties Altoona has set up. Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke, Justin Wilson and Tony Watson, southpaws all, are the Curve’s first four starters.

The only time the Thunder could potentially see a right-hander would be in the decisive fifth game, when Altoona will send Jared Hughes to the hill against either Cory Arbiso or Manny Banuelos.

Given their relatively pedestrian offensive output all year — outside of Brandon Laird — the Thunder have performed surprisingly well against left-handers. The current roster has a .264 average with on-base and slugging percentages of .350 and .434, respectively.

Trenton has also gone deep 40 times against lefties, including six from Marcos Vechionacci, four each from Austin Romine and Luis Nunez and three apiece from Austin Krum and Dan Brewer. That quintet connected on 44 home runs this season, 20 of which came off of southpaws.

It’s pretty unusual to see a team able to spin four lefties in its rotation, and it’s even more unusual to see a team do so well against them.

Another plus for the Curve comes from the back end of its bullpen, where the Thunder will find Daniel Moskos -- one of the league’s best closers – waiting for them in the late innings.

Moskos, most famous for being the player the Pirates chose instead of Matt Wieters in 2007, has quietly put together an excellent season out of the Curve’s bullpen, and in the process has re-grown his stock to near pre-draft levels.

Although he got bombed in Triple-A, with Altoona he was nearly unhittable in the ninth inning. Moskos saved 21 games with the Curve, and allowed just 18 hits and struck out 27 during the ninth inning of ballgames.

What the Thunder do have on their side, however, is momentum and confidence. When they dismantled New Hampshire, they captured their white whale and gave themselves a huge injection of confidence for the championship round.

That, plus their yearlong mashing of left-handers, is what should give them the overall edge in this series. I think the Thunder will win it, and they’ll do it in five games.


Underdog Thunder ready for a fight

Against the Fisher Cats in the Division Series, the Thunder came in as the overwhelming underdog. All season long, New Hampshire had pitched, hit and fielded the ball better against their counterparts from Trenton. It looked to all the world like the Thunder were destined for an unceremonious exit in the first round.

As it turns out, sometimes the world gets it wrong.

Now, after dismantling the Fisher Cats in most dominant fashion, that underdog label has been swiftly yanked from the Thunder’s back. Two factors, I believe, make them the overwhelming favorites to win their third Eastern League championship in the last four seasons.

One is their starting pitching, which once again will include rehabbing Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte. The other is their head-to-head record against the Curve this season.

If Pettitte makes it through his scheduled five innings, Tony Franklin will go to his relievers just as he would with any other starter. Should Pettitte falter, however, Andrew Brackman – who hasn’t pitched since the regular-season finale – will back him up.

Assuming Pettitte makes it through his rehab, Brackman will start Game 2, with Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and Manny Banuelos slated for the final three contests. If he doesn’t everybody gets pushed up a day, and Cory Arbiso gets the nod in Game 5.

While that rotation on its own looks like it could take on most Triple-A squads, the Curve’s lack of exposure to Betances and Banuelos will be what turns the series toward the team from New Jersey.

Even though the fearsome Fisher Cats lineup had seen both of the staff’s newbies once before, they were helpless once playoff time came around. Combined, Betances and Banuelos put up zeroes for 12 1/3 innings on seven hits and five walks while striking out a dozen.

Because the Curve haven’t seen either pitcher, I expect that the level of dominance will be even more pronounced.

Then there’s the head-to-head matchup. Unlike the Fisher Cats, who dominated the Thunder, the Curve proved to be easy pickings in the teams’ three series, during which Trenton went 7-3.

Individually, Dan Brewer has feasted on the Curve, posting a .438/.558/1.121 line, as well as four doubles, 12 RBIs and six stolen bases in 10 games. Marcos Vechionacci and Luis Nunez were the only other members of the team to hit better than .300 against Altoona.

Interestingly, of the team’s seven home runs against the Curve this year, only one came off the bat of someone still on the roster. That player? Nunez, who hit just eight bombs all year.

For the Curve, the x-factor could be outfielder Andrew Lambo, a top Dodgers prospect who came over in a midseason trade.

In the final head-to-head series, Lambo spanked the Thunder to the tune of a .455 average, including two RBIs and two walks. Miles Durham also fared pretty darn well, including a .382 average and six doubles off of Trenton pitching.

Outside of Kris Watts, who hit .308 against Trenton but plays sparingly, no other Curve player topped .250 over the teams’ 10 contests, which should bode well for Trenton’s rejuvenated and revamped pitching staff.

Both teams won their respective divisions and boast talented starters at the top of their rotations, which means that Thunder, no longer the underdog, should prepare themselves for a fight.


Romine a key to Thunder's success

TRENTON — Behind every great pitching staff lurks a skilled catcher, and the Thunder’s Austin Romine is no exception. If you ask him, he’ll defer any and all credit to the men on the mound, saying that his only role is putting the fingers down. Other than that, they did all the heavy lifting.

For proof, check out his quote from after Game 3 of the division series, when Manny Banuelos, in just his fourth start with the Thunder, turned in seven brilliant innings to close out the Fisher Cats.

“I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary,” he said. “I called exactly the same way the game has been called since the first time we played (the Fisher Cats) this season. When it came down to it, they executed. All our starters pitched out of serious situations, and that’s something they hadn’t been doing in the beginning of the year.”

Just as he’s been saying all season long, only the pitchers deserve the credit for a good game. In fact, Romine has downplayed his individual contributions all season long.

His pitchers, however, feel differently. Take Adam Warren’s story about a start earlier this season as an example.

“Every now and then, you’re going to feel strongly about a pitch,” he recalled. “I shook him off once, and then gave up a hit, and he was like ‘Why didn’t you throw the fastball?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I should have thrown that.’ It’s rare for me (to shake him off).”

Most importantly this postseason, Romine has shown an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion when it comes to his defense.

Romine threw out Darin Mastroianni, perhaps the league’s best base burglar, twice in the final game against New Hampshire, both in key situations. When you look at his numbers throwing out runners this season – which are way down from his first two seasons throwing out Mastroianni, who was caught just 10 times all season, was nothing short of heroic.

“Romine was excellent in throwing out Mastroianni,” manager Tony Franklin said, “just excellent. When you throw that kid out, you’ve done a very good job.”

The second time he caught Mastroianni came at second base. Mastroianni had a huge jump and looked to all the world to have the bag stolen easily. Some in the press box were surprised he didn’t simply put the ball in his back pocket. Throw he did, however, and it was perfect, a missile in perfect position for Mastroianni to slide right into the tag.

If the throw is anywhere else, the runner is safe. In Franklin’s view, it was the best throw he’d seen from his catcher all season.

“If it’s anyplace else, you don’t get him,” he said.

Romine, just like the rest of the team, seems to have risen to the challenge offered by postseason baseball. The perfect throw shows it, the way his pitchers have performed shows it, and the result of the series shows it.

The only question now is: Can he do it again? Franklin sure thinks so.

“When you see that one time, it’s there, and it’s a matter of will it be there all the time,” he says. “There’s good chance that, yes, it will be there all the time.”

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thunder ELCS Rotation

From Tony Franklin's mouth, here's how the pitchers will shake down for what I will dub the Beginning of Fall Classic:

Game 1: Andy Pettitte - If Pettitte exits before the prescribed five innnings, Andrew Brackman will back him up.

Game 2: Dellin Betances

Game 3: Adam Warren

Game 4: Manny Banuelos

Game 5: Cory Arbiso


Game 1: Andy Pettitte - If Pettitte goes the full five innings, the bullpen will pitch as normal

Game 2: Andrew Brackman

Game 3: Dellin Betances

Game 4: Adam Warren

Game 5: Manny Banuelos

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Andy Pettitte will pitch for Trenton again

Pete Caldera, Sweeny Murti and Marc Carig have each reported that Andy Pettitte will make a second rehab start for the Thunder, this time on the road in either Altoona or Harrisburg. Considering the Curve are up 10-5 in the ninth inning on the Senators, it will likely be in Altoona.

Pettitte will go five innings or 80 pitches this time around (whichever comes first). It is not known who will back him up.

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Andy Pettitte could lead off the Thunder rotation in the ELCS

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Are you ready for an encore?

Reports yesterday indicated that Andy Pettitte, who blew through the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Thursday night in Game 2 of the Eastern League Division Series, would make a second rehab start on Tuesday night.

After closing out New Hampshire last night, the Thunder open the Eastern League Championship Series Tuesday.

Triple-A Scranton would make sense, too. If they beat the Columbus Clippers, the Yankees would host Game 1 of the Governor’s Cup at PNC Field on Tuesday, making them a likely choice.

Another option for Pettitte that day would be in Tampa, where the T-Yanks would be in a decisive Game 5 against the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay) in the final round of the Florida State League playoffs.

No matter where he winds up, Pettitte will go five innings or 80 pitches, whichever comes first.

- - -

Two of the Thunder’s best hitters down the stretch, including the first two games of the division series, were a pair of players who started the season in the Atlantic League — outfielder Justin Christian and catcher Rene Rivera.

Rivera’s recent impact has been obvious: His two longballs have accounted for two of the team’s three RBIs over the first 21 innings. The second shot, hit in the 12th inning on Thursday, gave the Thunder a walk-off win and a two-game lead heading on the road.

Even though Christian was promoted right before the playoffs, his white-hot bat played a big part in Trenton taking the division from New Hampshire.

From the start of August until he left for Scranton, Christian hit .352 with 11 doubles, two triples and 15 RBIs. He also hit six home runs, representing two thirds of his total during his 87 games with Trenton.

Both Christian and Rivera have major league experience, proving that, if it looks hard enough, an organization can still find serviceable, experienced talent outside of affiliated baseball.

The Thunder also plucked pitcher Paul Bush from the Atlantic League, but the Yankees released him shortly thereafter.

- - -

Say what you want about the blown call at first last night costing the Fisher Cats a chance at a split heading home, but without a spectacular play from Luis Nunez at short in the third inning, New Hampshire would have taken the game in regulation.

With a runner on third, one out and the infield drawn in, Callix Crabbe slapped a ball hard up the middle. Nunez dove to his left, speared the ball, held the runner and retired Crabbe.

Pettitte recovered to get the next man, Darin Mastroianni, on a grounder to first, snuffing New Hampshire’s only real scoring threat.

- - -

Left-hander Steve Garrison, who was signed by the Yankees yesterday to replace Wilkin De La Rosa on the 40-man roster, should be with the Thunder by Saturday.

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Postgame Audio from Romine, Banuelos, Rivera and Franklin

Just like the headline says, here are the postgame interviews from (top down) Austin Romine, Manny Banuelos, Rene Rivera and Tony Franklin. Rivera is the interpreter for Banuelos, who is a big topic in all four interviews. Check out some good stuff in Romine's interview about his friendly rivalry with Darin Mastroianni, whom he caught stealing twice last night.

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Thunder clinch a spot in ELCS; Manny Banuelos fans Edwin Encarnacion

In the top video, Adam Olbrychowski fans Jonathan Jaspe to end the series. Below, Manny Banuelos blows away Edwin Encarnacion.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Thunder sweep New Hampshire, move on to ELCS

MANCHESTER, N.H. – For the Thunder, taking care of the Fisher Cats in the Eastern League Division Series was as easy as 1-2-3.

Damon Sublett and Rene Rivera each socked home runs, and phenom Manny Banuelos threw the game of his life in an 8-1 win that sealed a series sweep and sent Trenton to its third Eastern League Championship Series in the last four seasons.

Just as it had been all series long, strong starting pitching carried the Thunder past a Fisher Cats squad that not only had vexed them throughout the regular year, but also led the league with 723 runs.

Trenton’s arms put those bats on ice, holding them scoreless for 29 of the set’s 30 innings, with the lone score coming in last night’s final frame.

Even Tony Franklin, the skipper who has overseen the franchise’s overwhelming surge of success since 2007, couldn’t have imagined such a lopsided outcome to the opening round.

He even went so far as to anoint the Thunder’s win as the three most complete games he’s seen since he’s been at the helm.

“These would be hard to top. These would be hard to top,” he said, “especially with the youngsters that we have and the newness on the pitching staff that we’ve got assembled here now.”

Banuelos, who at 19 years old stands as the youngest player on the team, overcame a bit of nerves early to pitch the game of his life. In the process, he earned his first win in his 16 starts this season.

“At the beginning of the game, it was a little tense. I was a little bit nervous about it” he said. “Once I started throwing my stuff, I knew my stuff was good and I kind of relaxed and just let it go.”

Overall, Banuelos needed just 73 pitches to knife through the Fisher Cats order, allowing five hits and three walks against five strikeouts. One of those five came against Edwin Encarnacion, a major league veteran who confessed to Franklin later that even he was overpowered by what Banuelos brought to the table.

“He was comfortable tonight, and he let it all hang out. Edwin Encarnacion said ‘Boy, that’s a pretty good fastball.’ He probably doesn’t see a lot of fastballs like that in the major leagues.”

On offense, series MVP Rivera once again provided the big blow. His two-run shot off of New Hampshire starter Scott Richmond – another major league veteran – put the Thunder up 3-1 in the seventh inning and drained whatever hope remained on New Hampshire’s side.

“It’s great, man,” he said, before deferring most of the credit to his teammates. “It’s a great feeling to be available to help the team in any way I can. The team played well, great defense, pitching was outstanding, they only got one run in three games.”

From here, the Thunder wait. Altoona topped Harrisburg last night and now hold a 2-1 advantage in their division series.

To catcher Austin Romine, however, none of that matters. He’s plenty confident about his team’s future moving forward. In fact, when asked if the team had a preference about who it would face in round two, he said this:

“No. We don’t care. We’re going to beat them.”

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Live from Manchester: Lineups and such


Austin Krum - CF
Justin Snyder - 3B
Dan Brewer - RF
Austin Romine - C
Marcos Vechionacci - 1B
Rene Rivera - DH
Damon Sublett - LF
Luis Nunez - SS
Matt Cusick - 2B
Manny Banuelos - LHP

Darin Mastroianni - CF
Adeiny Hechavarria - SS
Eric Thames - LF
Edwin Encarnacion - 3B
Shawn Bowman - DH
David Cooper - 1B
Jonathan Jaspe - C
Adam Loewen - RF
Callix Crabbe - 2B
Scott Richmond - RHP

Obviously, the biggest news of the day is Edwin Encarnacion's arrival in the Fisher Cats' lineup. Like Zach Stewart, Encarnacion was part of the trade that sent Scott Rolen to Cincinnati. He played 80 games with the Blue Jays this year and hit .246 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs.

On the surface, the move might look like retaliation for Andy Pettitte last night, but the Blue Jays don't have any other minor league teams active, either.

Steve Garrison, who was picked up on waivers yesterday and replaced Wilkin De La Rosa on the 40-man roster is listed on the team's roster, but is not in the park. Sounds like they're shooting for tomorrow.

Neither team took batting practice on the field today.

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Rivera's blast finishes what Pettitte started

TRENTON – In the 12th inning last night, New Hampshire reliever Trystan Magnuson was re-taught the hard lesson he should have learned on Wednesday: No matter the circumstance, do not throw a fastball to Rene Rivera.

With one out, that’s exactly what the Thunder’s designated hitter got from Magnuson and – just like Wednesday – he turned it into a no-doubt home run. The shot turned Trenton into 1-0 winners and gave them a powerful two-game edge to take with them on the road in the Eastern League Division Series.

“I’m looking for a pitch out over the plate that I can drive,” Rivera said. “I got lucky both times – yesterday and today – that I saw a pitch that I can handle.”

Before Rivera’s heroics, however, the Thunder were beneficiaries of a blown call from first-base umpire Chris Hamner.

With Adam Calderone on third and two out, Fisher Cats leadoff man Darin Mastroianni squibbed one toward second that Matt Cusick fielded and fired to first. Photos showed that Cusick’s throw was about 6 feet from when Mastroianni hit the bag, but Hamner still wound up and banged him out.

Mastroianni and manager Luis Rivera protested to no avail, and Rivera got tossed in the process. Still, to the team’s credit, the Fisher Cats did not solely blame Hamner for their loss.

“We’ll come out tomorrow and play our game,” third baseman Shawn Bowman said. “I know the umpire blew a call tonight, but we also didn’t score any runs.” “We’re not out of it. It could be one big hit from anyone in the order that will change things around.”

Before the fireworks in the final inning, both teams engaged in the most epic pitchers’ duel at Waterfront Park this season.

On the Thunder’s side, there was Andy Pettitte – their ace-in-the-hole for four innings – and Adam Warren, their ace for the last two months.

In his four innings, Pettitte faced one more than the minimum and struck out four before giving way to Warren, who made the five-time World Series champion look like a side dish, rather than the main course.

Warren fanned 10 in his six innings, including the first extra frame, and looked icy cool even in relief.

“I had to lock in mentally and try to keep everything the same,” Warren said. “My body was kind of funny in the bullpen, and I didn’t throw as loose as usual because I didn’t have a chance to run around as much. Once I got into the game and got a little adrenaline going, it was all the same.”

Austin Romine, who had the pleasure of catching both men, wanted to no credit afterward for his game-calling skills. He instead deferred to Pettitte and Warren for blanking the Fisher Cats’ powerful offense.

“I don’t want any of (the credit),” he said. “I didn’t do anything. I suggest pitches and they throw it. They did their job.”

NOTES: Two of Warren’s strikeouts came on foul bunts. … The 8,072 fans in attendance represented a season high for the Thunder, a night after they registered their season low. … Josh Schmidt once again drew a Hall of Fame closer’s entrance music. He got Mariano Rivera’s “Enter Sandman” on Wednesday, and last night was treated to AC DC’s “Hells Bells,” the song that plays when Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman enters.

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Why hasn't Tony Franklin been the Manager of the Year?

TRENTON – Since Tony Franklin took over the reigns in 2007, the Thunder have won 321 games, have appeared in the playoffs three times and have claimed two Eastern League crowns.

Players on his teams have led the league in strikeouts (Alan Horne, 2007), ERA (Zach McAllister, 2009) and been named Pitcher of the Year (Horne, 2007) Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year (Brandon Laird, 2010).

The number that I’m sure he’d tell he’s most proud of, however, is 38. That’s how many players his teams have sent to the major leagues in just four years’ time, and that’s excluding all rehab appearances or players who were in the show before coming to the Thunder.

Yet for all that success in the standings, record books and developmental fronts, Franklin has failed to secure even one Manager of the Year honor in the Eastern League, and he hasn’t the slightest clue why.

“For whatever reason, they’ve chosen someone else,’’ Franklin said. “Would I have liked to receive the award? Yeah. I think I have done enough to receive the award. … I put a lot into this, just like the players put a lot into it, and you like to be recognized for some of the good things you do.”

Altoona’s Matt Walbeck won it this year, Akron’s Mike Sarbaugh took the award in 2009 and Bowie’s Brad Komminsk picked up the hardware in 2008. Walbeck also was the league’s top skipper in 2007 with Altoona, when the Curve finished just five games above .500, at 73-68.

The topic was broached as to whether his spate of ejections this season (there’s no official tally, but the consensus seems to be that he’s been run eight times) may have played a factor. Franklin acknowledged that it may have come into play, but sincerely hopes that it didn’t.

“I’ve always tried my best not to go out there just for the sake of sticking up for your players. I do, but when I do go out to stick up for my players, I feel like it’s a pretty legitimate reason,” Franklin said. “If my player gets upset and I feel he’s not right about why he’s arguing the call, I won’t go.”

Regardless of what the league’s voters say (the ballot results aren’t made public), it’s clear that Franklin has done more than enough to earn the award. He’ll just have to settle for the two championship rings instead.

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Rob Segedin excited for his glimpse at Double-A

TRENTON — On sheer looks alone, new Thunder third baseman bears a frighteningly striking resemblance to Kevin Mahoney, the infielder who spent a few weeks with Trenton this summer.

And just like Mahoney, Rob Segedin made it to Double-A well before he had any business being there.

The Yankees’ third-round pick from this season was promoted Tuesday when second baseman Corban Joseph was placed on the disabled list for a problem in his right wrist. He’s not likely to see much — if any — time in the playoffs, but he was all smiles anyway.

“I got the call and I was really excited to come down here and help the Trenton Thunder in the playoffs,” Segedin said.

Obviously, a promotion to Double-A — for the playoffs, to boot — after spending just 24 professional games combined between Rookie and Short Season ball, comes with a massive helping of shock. Segedin’s case was no exception.

“My coach, Josh Paul, called me and said I was going to Double-A, and I literally had to ask him five times, I thought he was joking around,” Segedin explained. “He said, ‘No, seriously. You’re going to Connecticut tonight, pack your stuff.’”

With the Gulf Coast League Yankees and Staten Island this season, Segedin, a native of Teaneck, hit .244 with two home runs and 10 RBIs.

Although it’s not often that a club fails to sign its third-round selection (only the Mariners failed to do so this year), knowing that the Yankees — his boyhood team — who chose him made the decision to leave Tulane that much easier.

“To go with an organization that’s so dedicated to winning, and hopefully going through the organization, playing for an organization like that, that’s something I really wanted,” he said.

For a boy like Segedin, who grew up watching the Yankees and the Core Four dominate the late 90s and early 2000s, the opportunity to watch Andy Pettitte make a rehab start is going to be a career highlight for years to come.

“He’s on my team, at least for one day,” Segedin said, wearing a huge grin. “I’ve watched him, literally, since I started watching baseball. 1995 was when I started seriously watching baseball, seeing Jeter and all those guys. … Now that I’m on the same team as (Pettitte), it’s kind of cool.”

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Hun alum Steve Garrison to join Thunder; De La Rosa waived; Cox suspended

TRENTON — After putting left-hander Wilkin De La Rosa on waivers last night to open a spot on the 40-man roster, the Yankees have filled that hole with a little bit of local flavor.

Steve Garrison, also a southpaw, from the Hun School in Princeton, was claimed on waivers by the Yankees earlier yesterday afternoon, and will report to the Thunder for the playoffs.

Garrison was still dealing wit the shock of being removed from the Padres’ 40-man roster when general manager Brian Cashman to tell him the news.

“I really don’t know what I’m feeling right now,” he said. “It’s a big-time roller-coaster. … I’m thankful people still believe in me.”

Garrison, who has had an issue with a bone spur in his left foot, will fly to Philadelphia this morning to meet with Yankees head trainer Gene Monahan and take a physical.

If he passes, he believes will join the Thunder on Sunday for the if-necessary Game 5 at Waterfront Park.

De La Rosa’s removal from the 40-man roster comes at a bad time for the Thunder, who also suspended J.B. Cox yesterday after an altercation in the dugout on Wednesday with manager Tony Franklin.

Initial reports suggested that De La Rosa’s removal from the 40-man roster had little, if anything, to do with

Witnesses said Cox, who was upset after being removed from the game in favor of Pat Venditte, slammed the ball down before getting chest to chest with his skipper and engaging him in an extended argument.

For a man who has already left the organization once, gotten in a bar fight before spring training and been disciplined for writing an obscenity on his shoes, this may have marked the last straw for Cox in the Yankees organization.

“We took some action,” Franklin said, referring to the suspension. “We felt the action was needed. I wish him well. If his career has ended with the Yankees, I hate for it to end on this note.”

Ben Watkins, a right-hander, was promoted yesterday from Charleston to fill one of the spots. Garrison will fill the other.

Watkins joins teammate Taylor Grote, who joined the Thunder in New Britain over the weekend, as former RiverDogs suddenly thrust into a playoff situation.

“My mood went from great, being home and seeing my family and friends,” Watkins said, “to even better, getting to play some playoffs here in Trenton.”

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Video of Austin Romine, Andy Pettitte and Rene Rivera

Props to Trentonian intern Ryan Howard for taking all of these videos. Great job by him.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cox suspended after altercation in dugout

I'll have more on this later, but J.B. Cox didn't handle his removal very well last night, and as a result has been suspended. I can't imagine he'll ever play professional baseball again. Here's the team press release.

The Trenton Thunder, Double-A Affiliate of the New York Yankees, announced today that RHP J.B. Cox has been place on the suspended list and that they have received RHP Benjamin Watkins from Low-A Charleston.

Watkins, 23, has been added after posting a 3-4 record with a 3.88 ERA in 35 games with the Low-A Charleston River Dogs of the South Atlantic League. The right-hander allowed 25 earned runs on 59 hits while striking out 34 and walking 16 in 58 innings of work. Watkins was selected by the Yankees in the 40th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. In 25 games for Short-Season Single-A Staten Island last year, Watkins went 5-0 with a 2.47 ERA in 47.1 innings of work.

The EL Eastern Division Series continues with Game 2 on Thursday at 7:05 PM from Waterfront Park. LHP Andy Pettitte will make a rehab start for the Thunder, while New Hampshire gives the ball to RHP Zach Stewart. Catch all the action on 107.7 FM The Bronc or online at

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Drabek still confident after Game 1 loss

TRENTON – Even after suffering a hard-luck loss to Dellin Betances and the Thunder on Wednesday in the opening game of the Eastern League Division Series, Kyle Drabek is adamant that his Fisher Cats are the cream of the crop.

“Our team is still confident,” Drabek said Wednesday night. “We feel like we’re the best team in this league. It’s a big loss. You don’t want to lose the first game in a playoff series.”

Drabek held Trenton to one run on three hits and a pair of free passes, but it wasn’t enough against Betances, who, although it wasn’t particularly pretty at times, got the better of Toronto’s top prospect.

Drabek’s downfall in Game 1 was command. He went to 2-0 or worse on every hitter in the first inning, but was able to retire them all. He wasn’t as lucky in the fourth, when a four-pitch walk to Austin Krum led to the eventual game-winning score.

“I had trouble throwing strikes and a leadoff walk is never good,” he said, “then they put a few hits together and were able to get (the run) in.”

Because there are no off days in this series, Drabek is reduced to a spectator for the remainder. Still, he’s got no worries about his teammates’ ability to battle back and move on to the E.L. Championship Series, which would be played against either Harrisburg or Altoona.

“This is a great team and everyone gets along great. After games, you have your downtime and focus on (today),” Drabek said, before reminding himself that New Hampshire’s 17-6 regular-season record against the Thunder won’t play much of a role in the outcome of the series. “I don’t think us beating them a bunch in the regular season comes into this series. This is a playoff series, so every win is big.”

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New Hampshire's Mastroianni is a Brett Gardner clone

TRENTON – Thunder fans, you remember Brett Gardner, right? The guy who, parking himself in New York’s lineup, spent parts of the 2006 and 2007 seasons at Waterfront Park burning up the basepaths and driving opposing pitchers crazy?

Well, it appears he has a clone. Only this time, much to the dismay of Thunder fans, he’s playing for New Hampshire.

An inch shorter and slightly heavier, Mastroianni’s performance at the top of the Fisher Cats’ lineup has surpassed the totals Brett the Jet put up with Trenton a few summers ago.

Toronto’s 16th-round selection from the 2007 draft led the Eastern League in stolen bases (46), finished tied for the lead in hits (158) and came in second in on-base percentage (.390), runs scored (101) and walks (77). His .301 batting average was good for fifth in the circuit.

“He’s done a great job. He’s probably the best leadoff guy in this league,” New Hampshire manager Luis Rivera said last month, during the teams’ final regular-season showdown. “If he goes, we go. That’s how it is. He’s done a great job. He’s getting on base and he’s scoring a lot of runs.”

Moreover, just like most of his teammates, Mastroianni’s done a great deal of damage against the Thunder during the regular year. He’s hitting at a fantastic .318/.396/.798 clip, with five doubles, a triple and 11 RBIs thrown in. He’s also swiped five bases in six attempts, with the only failure coming on an overslide of third base.

“He’s always on base,” teammate Eric Thames says, restating what the statistics make plainly obvious. “It’s seems like every time you look up he’s on first base. He’ll steal second, steal third. He’s just a big part of this team.”

After his first full season in pro ball, spent with Low-A Lansing of the Midwest League, it would have been hard to predict this kind of success for Mastroianni. He hit just .228 with the Lugnuts, and as a result saw his playing time diminish over the second half of the season.

Tommy John surgery that offseason, plus a change in his approach at the plate, helped him get back on the path to becoming the offensive monster he’s been all season long.

“I just really focused on getting on top of the ball a little bit more and hitting line drives, really be shorter to the ball” Mastroianni explained. “Obviously I’ve still got things to work on. You’re never done, but it’s helped.”

The idea that Mastroianni could get even better should frighten the Thunder just a bit, because with the way he’s performed this, anything better could prove to a death blow for Trenton’s championship chances.

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Warren OK with backing up Pettitte tonight

TRENTON — Adam Warren, arguably the team’s most reliable starter since the day he showed up, will not start in the Eastern League Division Series. There’s a good reason for that, though, one that has 240 major league wins to his credit.

Warren will relieve Andy Pettitte in today’s Game 2, and for the Thunder hurler, that’s no skin off his back. In fact, the –year-old right-hander considers it a bit of an honor to play caddy for a day for someone with Pettitte’s credentials.

“Obviously, I’d like to start,” Warren admitted,” but when a guy like Andy Pettitte comes, you can’t really be mad, because of the pitcher he is.”

The plan is for Pettitte to go four innings or 65 pitches, whichever comes first. After that, Warren will come in and, barring ineffectiveness, more than likely go the rest of the game, with the exception of maybe a reliever for a few outs if Pettitte leaves in the middle of an inning.

One of the big concerns for Warren today is how he will keep his pre-start routine intact, given that he won’t get into the game until probably the fifth inning. That means pushing back the normal stretching, throwing and all of the other calisthenics that come before a normal start.

“It’s going to be a new process for me, but I’m going to try to keep everything the same, though,” Warren said. “Maybe in the first inning I’ll go ahead and start stretching, that sort of thing, try to work in some sort of long toss before the game, or with the outfielders, something like that. I’ll make a few adjustments, but I don’t think it’s going to affect me negatively.”

The choice for Warren to be the one pushed back really didn’t entail much of a choice at all. Both pitchers were scheduled to go today, so the minor leaguer was forced to play second fiddle.

“I think the priority is to get the major league pitchers back to pitching,” manager Tony Franklin said. “We happen to be home, and he’s got a place to pitch, so that’s the way it is. And I think it’s a good thing. Adam’s going to be in there right after him, so I think Adam’s going to prepare to pitch the way he normally does.”

If there were any fears that Pettitte would come down, throw a few pitches and just work on getting his feel back without any regard to the situation his new teammates have fought so hard to achieve, those feelings were quickly allayed during today’s Yankees game.

The broadcasters mentioned that Pettitte not only knew the magnitude of the situation he was thrust into, but he had gone so far as to request scouting reports on the Fisher Cats to ensure that he did the best job possible once his time came.

“I heard the announcers talking about Andy coming down, and what he said,” Franklin explained. “Andy’s coming down with every intention of helping us win a baseball game, and that’s the way it should be.”

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Thunder edge Cats, take Game 1

TRENTON – Hey, Andy Pettitte, top that.

Behind 5 1/3 innings of ferocious fireballs from Dellin Betances, the Thunder bucked the odds against the league’s Pitcher of the Year and took Game 1 of the Eastern League Division Series from the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 2-0, in one of the more electric games in recent memory.

Betances, a native New Yorker with a massive cheering section whooping at nearly every pitch, held the league’s most explosive offense to just two hits and a walk before he yielded the stage in the sixth inning.

The Thunder’s starter said afterward that knowing it was Drabek opposing him gave him the extra juice he needed in the biggest game of his career.

“I knew Drabek was going to come in, and he’s been pitching well all year,” he said. “He won Eastern League Pitcher of the Year, so I knew it was going to be a tough one. I just had to keep trying to put up zeroes and give my team a chance.”

Using well-spotted gas that topped out at 95 miles per hour, plus a spine-melting array of breaking and offspeed pitches, that’s exactly what he did.

As outstanding as his line was on its own, it was the extra notch he found time and time again that was truly impressive. Betances stranded five runners in scoring position, all with less than two outs.

“I just tried to make quality pitches,” he said. “I know I got myself in one of those myself, so I just tried to make some good pitches. Whatever Romine was calling I was going with, so it was good to have him behind me.”

As excellent as Betances was all night long, Kyle Drabek, the Fisher Cats’ ace and inarguably the league’s top hurler, was damn near his equal from his first pitch to his last.

The one problem he had early, however, was getting behind hitters. And although he was perfect through the first three frames, in the fourth inning his early misses wound up costing him.

Austin Krum drew a four-pitch walk to lead off the frame, and was pushed to second on Justin Snyder’s groundout. Krum followed with a steal of third before scoring on Dan Brewer’s line single over shortstop.

Snyder, who was 1-for-4 with a double, made play after play at third base behind Betances. His biggest moment came with runners on the corners in the ninth, when he turned Darin Mastroianni’s hot smash to third into a game-ending double play.

“I was just trying to field my position like I should,” Snyder said. “Some of those plays were a little tougher than I would like, they’re not routine ground balls or anything. It’s just getting out of jams and picking up Dellin. He got himself in and out of situations tonight. Coming in and beating them first game is pretty clutch.”

Not only was it clutch, but it bodes particularly well for the rest of the series. The Thunder have won the first game of their last six postseason series, and have taken the set in the last four.

History aside, what matters tonight is that they topped huge odds and took down Drabek, something they hadn’t done in their previous five tries, and gave themselves huge momentum for tonight, when Pettitte and Adam Warren will try put them in position for a sweep Friday in New Hampshire.

“The first game at home here against Drabek, and the manner in which we got it,” manager Tony Franklin said, “that’s outstanding,”

NOTES: Second baseman Corban Joseph, on the disabled list with a wrist problem, saw a doctor yesterday and wasn’t in the clubhouse before the game. … After being removed in the eighth inning, reliever J.B. Cox got into an argument with Franklin and chest-bumped the manager during the proceedings. … The 2,860 who came to the game last night represented a season-low. … When Josh Schmidt came in for the sixth inning, he did so to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” which is Yankees closer Mariano Rivera’s entrance music.

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Game 1 wrap up (with video)

Quick. Think of every adjective one would use to describe a pitcher who's just had a great night. Nasty? Filthy? Dirty? Well keep on digging, because you're going to need a whole new lexicon to begin describe just how good Dellin Betances was in Game 1 of the Eastern League Division Series tonight.

Betances gave up two hits and a walk over 5 1/3 innings while striking out eight and looking downright overpowering against what was far and away the most potent lineup in the circuit all year long.

He outdueled Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Kyle Drabek, who was pretty damn good in his own right. He hit 97 on the gun several times, and held the Thunder to one run over six innings, which just wasn't good enough on this night.

With that, here are some videos from tonight: A Betances strikeout, Dan Brewer's game-winning hit, and postgame comments from Betances and Justin Snyder, who made several key plays in the field.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kei Igawa is in the house

Kei Igawa is here, but rest easy, Thunder fans, he won't be allowed anywhere near the mound during a game. He's here to work a little bit before starting for Scranton at home in the International League.

That's pretty much it on that front.

In other news, New Hampshire catcher Brian Jeroloman, on the disabled list with an injured wrist, is with the team and may DH in Game 3. ... The Fisher Cats have also had a rotation change: Scott Richmond (a major league veteran) will go against Manny Banuelos in Game 3. Randy Boone is moved to Game 4, and B.J. LaMura was moved to Game 5. ... Rob Segedin is here, and will wear number 17.

Lineups: New Hampshire

Mastroianni - LF
Hechavarria - SS
Thames - DH
Bowman - 3B
Cooper - 1B
Calderone - LF
Loewen - RF
Liuzza - C
Diaz - 2B
Drabek - P


Krum - CF
Snyder - 3B
Brewer - RF
Romine - C
Vechionacci - 1B
Rivera - DH
Sublett - LF
Nunez - SS
Cusick - 2B
Betances - P

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An ELDS questionnaire